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Checklist For Taking Your Blog to the Next Level

Most people fall into blogging by accident. It may start as a hobby – an easy way to get your thoughts down. Maybe someone told you to do it, and you were intrigued. Either way, if you’ve been doing it for more than a few months, you are probably in it for the long haul. If so, do you have a plan for taking it to the next level? That is, a plan to start treating your blog like a business and eventually monetizing.

If not, here is a checklist to get you started on your way to blogging success.

1# Improve your site to improve organic traffic

If you’ve never heard of search engine optimization (SEO), you have some reading to do. The cliff notes version is that SEO helps websites rank better in search engines. Since most Internet users turn to places like Google for information, you want to make sure you are in front of these people.

There are many ways to improve your visibility, too many to cover in one article. Basically though, there are onsite ways to improve your rankings and offsite ways. Onsite refers to changes you can make directly on your website to improve rankings. Offsite generally refers to methods that encourage other websites to talk about you, in return linking back to your site and giving your site a “vote of confidence,” a vote that search engines use to determine rankings.

Here are just a few easy onsite changes you can make to improve not only your blog’s rankings, but also its usability.

Create a sitemap – This will help you in two ways. One, it can help you start thinking about the navigational structure of your website. You want it to be clear for not only users, but also search engines. They use these when crawling your site, so making it easy for them to find and index your pages.

Utilize title tags – Make sure that your pages have titles. An easy way to determine if it does not is when you are on a page, does it just say “Mozilla FireFox” or some other non-descriptive explanation on your browser tab? If so, you need to add this. Make sure to use keywords in these title tags that are relevant to not only the content on the page, but also what people are searching for.

Set up header tags – These are used to create visual hierarchy in body copy, providing a visual break with headings and subheadings. They are denoted by and tags in HTML, and are used as a ranking factor because they generally give search engines an idea of what a page is about.

2# Create a social media strategy

You most likely utilize some social media platforms for your blog. However, most beginners haphazardly tweet and update their status on a whim. In order to take your blog to the next level, you should start looking at it like a business decision. That means developing a social media strategy that has clear goals and metrics for determining ROI. While there is a lot that goes into creating a social strategy for a business, a good workflow for a beginner is:

• Research which platforms your target readers use
• Narrow it down to a manageable amount of platforms
• Create accounts if you don’t already have them
• Determine goals – what do you want to get out of this?
• Set targets – what does it look like to reach these goals?
• Ensure metrics to track goals and targets are in place
• Develop a “social media policy,” or loosely, a consistent voice and standards for engagement
• Determine how it plays into your content strategy (don’t have one – here’s where to start)
• Create a process – i.e. scheduling, work flow, etc.
• Tracking and learning – evaluating targets and metrics to reassess the strategy

3# Start thinking about how to monetize

Once you have strong content and processes in place, start thinking about how you want to monetize your site. In general, there are three ways to do this:

1. Advertising – Other people pay you for visibility on your site

2. Affiliate Marketing – You provide links to other businesses’ products/services and for each one of your readers that purchases from that business, you get a percentage of sales

3. Services/Products– Depending on what your blog is, offering a product and/or service that readers pay for

Determine which route(s) you want to take and spend time researching how to succeed in each. Not all routes are best for all types of blogs. For example, what could advertising do to your readership – will it alienate them? Do you get enough traffic to make affiliate marketing lucrative? There are a lot of questions to ask, so once you determine which path to take you will be on your way to turning your once-just-a-blog into a business.

Author Bio:- AdriaSaracinois a marketer and tech writer. She often writes about business matters and application development for a variety of clients. When not writing professionally, you can find her talking about style on her fashion blog, The Emerald Closet.

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